CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Corpsmen have all of the guts and little of the glory as the Marines make headlines across the country from successful operations against the insurgency. But one Corpsman with the 2nd Marine Division has already had his 15 minutes of fame.
Once a member of the All-Marine Volleyball team, Petty Officer 1st Class Phil Misciagno, leading petty officer for the division surgeon’s office here, has had his share of fame in the past 12 and a half years. This leading petty officer is leading the good life as he continues to support the Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
His section is the administration hub for all medical activity within the division. He is in charge of all medical reporting, manning and logistics of medical personnel and equipment related to division units. It’s a big job for one guy, but it’s nothing he hasn’t been up against already.
Misciagno, a 31-year-old who hails from Long Island, N.Y., said some of the best times in his life were also some of the worst when he was on the team from 1998 to 2001.
“Whoever said volleyball isn’t a contact sport hasn’t played,” he said. “When that ball makes contact with you at fifty-miles per hour, or when you make contact with the ground in some cases, it could be bad. Being on the volleyball team was a good time in my life, but it hurt,” he said. “I had my right shoulder reconstructed, spent six months in rehab and I also had my knees worked on.”
Misciagno had to fight the Navy when they put him put him through a medical review board and try to discharge him for permanent injuries. Several years later, he’s wearing his gold rank insignias, which signify a good service record and faithful service. And he’s serving here with the Marines in one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.
“I’ve been greenside (with the Marines) for about 10 years now,” said Misciagno. “I’m a happy-go-lucky kind of guy and I make the best of any situation, so it doesn’t affect me that much to be here. I do miss my family, though.”
Misciagno has two daughters ages one and eleven and a son age eight. Just recently his youngest won the Miss SunTrust Beauty Queen of North Carolina pageant. Now she’s on her way to an international beauty pageant in August.
“My daughter Angelina is just like her mother; she likes to sleep in, she likes to showboat and most of all, she’s beautiful,” said Misciagno.
Sundays, Misciagno likes to get on his computer that has a video camera mounted onto it and talk to his daughter and the rest of his family.
“I think when she sees me come home, she’ll freak out because every time she sees me now I’m one dimensional,” he said. “She just recently called me Da Da. She’s never said that before.”
When he was a kid, Misciagno’s parents moved him from New York to Citrus Hills Fla. It wasn’t the free-for-all type of atmosphere he was used to and he needed an escape quickly. That’s when he enlisted in the Navy.
“Citrus Hills was the land of the old people,” said Misciagno. “I went from everything to nothing. It was a culture shock, so I decided to join after one year of college.”
Thirteen years later, Misciagno finally finished the bachelor’s degree he stared before he joined. During the last four years with the division, he found time to take classes after work to earn a bachelor’s in business administration from Mt. Olive College.
“Just because I have a degree doesn’t mean I’m going for an officer’s commission,” he said. “I did it for my mother. None of my brothers have degrees and I think it made her happy to see one of us do it.”
Misciagno’s success in the Navy is most likely his attitude toward life. He believes that to make the best out of anything in life is to learn from mistakes and turn them into positive experiences.
“That – and taking care of my sailors is the most important thing out here,” he added. “I love the camaraderie and the family aspect of the Navy. We are, whether we believe it or not, a family. And that’s why this we’re a success.”